Recovery and Discovery

Sensory Memories

When I smell lavender it takes me right back to being 5 years old at my Auntie Rene’s bungalow in Liverpool. She used to have lavender bags in her draws and a perfume spray which she used lavishly. I can remember her more vividly when I get reminded by the smell. How she used to get me and my cousin, Sandra, to weed the garden. There were less expectations to be entertained as a child then and we’d happily potter for hours in that garden.

I’ve always been fascinated by how our senses are linked with memory. We all know that flashback feeling of how hearing a song from the past or smelling a scent can take us back to a place or person. This becomes even more important for people living with dementia, who struggle to recall their short term memories.

Recovery and Discover Using the Senses

It was working in care for over 9 years that led me to set up the two reminiscence collections based at The Montgomery in Sheffield and St.Peters Resource Centre in Rotherham. I wanted to explore if using a sensory approach can help people with dementia to recover their identity and their relationships in their communities, which can get lost due to memory problems. I also wanted to see if it could act as a springboard for people to discover new skills, new friendships and a new perspective on life. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I wondered how using this approach in Stories for the Soul sessions could work.

Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that called Body is a portion of Soul discerned by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.

William Blake

Response Time In Stories for the soul sessions


This year we got £500 from St Agatha’s Trust to design a well being box to for creative response time, using the same sensory approach of the reminiscence collections. We took the boxes into several care settings to give out to people in sessions to put in any art work, objects, poetry, prayers, pictures or scents which have meaning.

The intention is for these boxes to be used at other times as well as Stories for the Soul sessions. This could be in activity sessions, personal devotion and reflection time, or with friends and relatives.

Our research into their use is ongoing and we’d love you to get involved with this project and to let us know how you get on.

Carrie Twist